At Lake Forest Dental Arts, when we see patients with damaged and misshapen teeth or serious oral health issues, we can often correct the problem with treatments in restorative dentistry. Because we know how important a beautiful smile is to our patients, Dr. James Fondriest offers lifelike, natural-looking restorations, including porcelain crowns, veneers, and porcelain-fused-to-metal (PFM) crowns.
What is a PFM Crown?
In simple terms, a PFM (porcelain-fused-to-metal) crown offers the strength of metal and the aesthetics of porcelain. Why is this necessary? While all-ceramic crowns are certainly strong and resilient, they can still fracture and crack under extreme bite forces. Therefore, if you have a molar tooth that needs to be restored, a PFM crown is often the most reliable option.
Try Our Quiz on PFM Dental Crowns
Not all PFM crowns are created equal. If you want to know what sets our restorations apart from the rest, try our quiz.
- True or False: We use high noble alloys for the metal portion.
- True or False: Porcelain is strong and lifelike.
- True or False: We can address multiple cosmetic issues.
- True or False: We can discuss tips for protecting your smile.
- The restoration consists of metal with an overlay of lifelike porcelain. For the metal portion, we typically use 14+ carat gold alloys. The high carat value means the color is easier to cover with porcelain and fewer amounts of tooth structure will need to be removed.
- Porcelain contains stain-resistant properties and can withstand powerful bite forces. In addition, the material mimics the appearance of natural tooth enamel and can be shaded to better blend with your smile. Once placed, no one will be able to tell you have received a restoration.
- Due to the strength of the metal portion and the lifelike nature of the outer ceramic, we can use them to repair cracked or broken teeth, reshape malformed teeth, or even lengthen worn down teeth. They can aid in closing gaps between teeth and address esthetic issues with the surface and color of a tooth. We can also employ them anchor dental bridges in place or restore a single tooth dental implant.
- After placement, we can offer tips for proper brushing and flossing, as well as other ways of keeping your smile healthy and avoiding further complications. If you have any questions about our lifelike dental crowns, or about keeping your smile healthy, then contact our team today.
Benefits of PFM Crowns
PFM crowns offer a wide range of advantages. For example, these restorations boast an impressive success rate. In fact, on average, PFM crowns can last up to 70 years with proper care! Furthermore, these restorations are preferred over other alternatives for patients suffering from bruxism. Additionally, they are also ideal when creating bridges, as they offer more strength compared to all-ceramic restorations.
Moreover, because PFM crowns are made from high noble metal, they are extremely biocompatible, and rarely cause allergic reactions, irritation, or other complications.
Drawbacks of PFM Crowns
When it comes to crowns with a metal substructure, fractures are rare. However, if a PFM crown sustains heavy bite forces, it is possible for some of the porcelain to chip off. This can usually be corrected with dental bonding, although more treatment may be necessary in some cases.
Because the porcelain is baked on top of a metal substructure, the quality of PFM crowns can vary significantly depending on who creates them. Oftentimes, a black line will appear at the gum line, due to the metal portion that shows through the soft tissue. Dr. Fondriest can eliminate this problem with a special technique, which we will explore in more detail later on.
Unlike all-ceramic restorations, PFM crowns do not trans-illuminate light on teeth roots. This can be an issue for those with thin gum tissue, as the illumination can make the gums appear brighter. On a tooth with a PFM crown, however, the gums may be visibly darker.
Lastly, PFM crowns made with high noble metal alloys are typically more costly compared to other alternatives. While all-ceramic restorations usually carry a lower lab fee, they are not as long-lasting. As a result, most patients find that PFM crowns are well worth the higher price tag.
PFM Crowns: Black Line at Gum Line
Earlier, we mentioned that some PFM crowns result in an unattractive black line where the restoration meets the gums. The whole point of choosing a PFM crown is to enjoy both strength and aesthetics. So why does this occur? This is a common problem when dentists use non-precious or low noble alloys. Couple that with the fact that non-precious alloys make ceramic less opaque, and you could end up with an exposed crown margin, which will likely be visible to others.
How Can We Address This Issue?
At Lake Forest Dental Arts, Dr. Fondriest uses only high noble gold alloys for the PFM substructure. Not only is this material far more biocompatible, it also creates a more natural look due to the warm colors of the high carat gold. Furthermore, Dr. Fondriest typically asks our lab to add a porcelain butt joint margin to each PFM crown. This extra step requires the ceramist to add a layer of porcelain, extending it to the shoulder preparation. As a result, the black line is eliminated. Patients truly can have the best of both worlds: a resilient and long-lasting restoration that accurately mimics nature’s beauty.
Maintaining Your Dental Crown
A PFM crown is an investment in your appearance and overall oral health. Therefore, it’s important to care for your new restoration properly. While crowns do not require a lot of extra care, they do need to be cleaned thoroughly and regularly. To make sure your PFM crown lasts for years to come, follow these recommended guidelines:
- Brush your teeth at least two times a day.
- Floss once daily with care.
- Use an antibacterial mouthwash.
- Attend routine dental cleanings and exams.
Does Your Smile Need a Crown?
We can create beautiful, custom-made restorations for our patients. To learn more, schedule a consultation at our Chicago, IL dental practice by calling 847-234-0517. We proudly serve residents of the Chicago metro area, as well as the Northwest and North Shore suburbs and all surrounding communities.